13 August 2001
‘Virus set for winter comeback’

By FWi staff

A NEW mathematical model predicts that numbers of foot-and-mouth cases could double to nearly 4000 outbreaks.

The epidemic remains delicately balanced and could worsen dramatically as winter approaches, warns Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College.

“If we relax biosecurity, movement restrictions or the cull, we will see a significant resurgence,” Prof Ferguson told The Daily Telegraph.

Prof Ferguson, whose team warned in March that the disease was out of control, bases his claims on the “case reproduction ratio”.

If each outbreak generates more than one subsequent case the epidemic has the potential to spiral out of control. Latest figures hover around that figure.

Prof Ferguson said “farmer fatigue” in maintaining biosecurity standards and vehicle movements are playing a role in the spread.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that in a letter to a constituent, junior DEFRA minister Elliot Morley branded farmers “a pretty ungrateful lot”.

And the governments rural recovery co-ordinator Lord Haskins claims that farmers whose stock were culled are better off than those who avoided the virus.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph the Labour peer said farmers who lost stock had suffered “more emotionally than financially”.

But neighbours who had seen businesses suffer because of restrictions had not received compensation.

Lord Haskins, chairman of Northern Foods, says that it will be easier to nurse Cumbria back to health than remote areas of Wales.

He warned that he would be under pressure from Westminster not to recommend further pay-outs to those affected by the disease.

In future there would be more part-time farming with a greater role for light industry and tourism, predicted Lord Haskins.

The Daily Mail condemns the “crass comments” of Mr Morley and Lord Haskins, who “flaunts his well-known disdain for farmers”.

His comments “show he knows nothing about the feelings and motivation of individuals who have had to watch the work of generations being destroyed”.

The start of the grouse-shooting season has been hit by foot-and-mouth and the ravages of a parasitic worm, reports The Guardian.

Overseas interest in the Glorious Twelfth has been reduced by foot-and-mouth and Scottish stocks have been dented by the trichostrongylus worm.

But The Independent takes and opposite view, saying that the Glorious Twelfth is being hailed as a timely fillip for areas hit by the virus.

Three new cases of foot-and-mouth, two in Cumbria and one in Powys, were confirmed on Sunday (12 August) taking the total up to 1947.

  • Daily Mail, 13 August, 2001, page 6, 12
  • The Independent, 13 August, 2001, page 7
  • The Daily Telegraph, 13 August, 2001, page 8
  • The Guardian, 13 August, 2001, page 7, 9

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Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage